Make Your AC Unit Last Longer

Maintenance Is The Key To AC Efficiency

Proper maintenance for an air conditioner can have an important effect on your furnace efficiency. For example, most people know that you should change your filter regularly, but did you know that a dirty filter can increase your system's energy consumption by up to 15%. Thus, if you are looking for ways to reduce your summer cooling costs, you should take steps to maintain your AC system.

Clean Your Coils

Your AC unit uses two separate sets of coils. The evaporator coils located on the inside of your home use a fan to push air over metal fins. The hot air causes the liquid refrigerant in the fins to evaporate, and the vaporized refrigerant than absorbs heat from the air. On the outside of your home, a fan pushes relatively cool air over a set of condenser coils to cool the refrigerant inside so that it condenses back to a liquid. When these coils get dirty, the amount of energy your system consumes increases by up to 37%, and the more energy your home consumes, the higher your utility bills are.

Use these steps to clean your coils:

1. Gain access to your coils. For condenser coils, this requires removing the protective grid that encases them. For evaporator coils, you need to remove the access panel. If you don't have an easily removable panel, leave accessing your evaporator coils to the professionals.

2. Coat your coils with a commercially available coil cleaner and wait at least five minutes to give the solvents in the cleaner sufficient time to break down the gunk on the coils. 

3. Scrub the coils with a stiff bristle brush. 

4. Rinse coils with a gentle stream of water from a hose. Do not use a pressure washer because it can bend or puncture the delicate metal fins that make up the coils. 

5. Use a fin comb to straighten any bent fins. Make sure you use the right size of fin comb for your unit. 

6. Replace the protective grid or access panel. 

Seal Leaky Ducts

Over time, your duct system will develop leaks, which can lead to up to a 40% drop in system efficiency. If your ducts are hidden behind the drywall of your home, you will have to call professionals to inspect and/or clean your ducts. On the other hand, if you have exposed ducts in your attic or crawlspace, you can do the job on your own:

1. Turn your thermostat to the "fan" position.

2. Access your ducts and light a stick of incense.

3. Slowly, run the incense along the joints and seams in your ducts. 

4. Use a permanent marker to mark anyplace where air escaping from your ducts disturbs the smoke from the incense. 

5. When you have inspected the full run of your ducts, turn the thermostat to the "off' position. 

6. Apply duct mastic with a paintbrush or putty knife to seal any leaks you found. Use a thick layer of mastic and make sure that it extends for at least a couple of inches beyond leaks. 

7. Allow the mastic to dry. 

8. Turn your thermostat back on. 

As you can see, homeowners can and should do much more maintenance than simply changing the filter from time to time. In order to make sure your HVAC system runs at optimum efficiency, you should take every precaution to make sure the components of your system are in good condition.